Reflecting on Academic Ableism Chapter 1

In this chapter, Dolmage uses the metaphor of space to discuss academic ableism in the university. He argues that:

“if rhetoric is the circulation of discourse through the body, then spaces and institutions cannot be disconnected from the bodies within them, the bodies they selectively exclude, and the bodies that actively intervene to reshape them” (44).

The first space he examines are the “steep steps.” He discusses how these steps are both a metaphor for the elitism of universities and a reality in many of the physical structures of campuses. The steps, along with the symbol of gate, set the university apart from the rest of the world. He goes on to talk about the way we construct what disability means and how the term has negative connotations.

I found it really disturbing to think about how to a certain extent eugenicist principles continue in universities today. He gives the example of how the top schools tend to pool from the same top 20% of students who in turn marry each other being a continuation of these principles. I had certainly never made that connection myself.

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